The mental health act of 1983 (updated 2007) is legislation in England and Wales that puts into law the individuals rights regarding mental health treatment. In particular, it talks about the individuals rights with regard to inpatient treatment. This is an issue of significance to the Autistic community.
Patients in an inpatient setting can be either formal (detained under the mental health act) or informal (they are inpatients volutarily). For the purposes of this article, we will look at the sections that can be used to detain an individual against their will, and what their rights are with regards to their use.
This pertains to the removal of an individual from a public space, to a place of safety, for assessment. This is carried out by police. Under this section you can be held for assessment for up to 36 hours.
This section allows police to enter a private place (not public) to detain you for assessment. To do this, they must have permission from magistrate. Again, you can be detained for up to 36 hours.
Under this section, you can be detained for up to 28 days in a psychiatric facility for assessment and treatment. People held under this section can be treated against their will. It is unusual for a section 2 to be renewed.
This section can be renewed.
Initially you can be detained for 6 months, it can then be renewed for a further 6 months. After this period subsequent renewals allow for 12 months of detainment. This section should only be used for yourself and others safety, and where treatment cannot be provided as an outpatient.
Section 5(2) “Doctors Holding Power”
This section allows a doctor or other approved clinician to detain you for up to 72 hours. This section requires a report to be made to the hospital manager. You are most likely to come across this as a voluntary patient.
Section 5(4) “Nurses Holding Power”
This regards detainment by a specially qualified nurse. You can be held for up to 6 hours, or until a doctor or clinician with the power to detain you arrives, whichever is earlier.
Section 117 aftercare
This section describes the legal duty to provide aftercare for those discharged under sections 3, 37, 45A, 47, and 48. this also applies if you are under a Community Treatment Order (CTO).
Community Treatment Orders
This is similar to being “on licence” from incarceration. A CTO allows you to be treated in the community under certain conditions. If you break the conditions of your CTO, you can be recalled to hospital.
This is not exhaustive, the mental health act contains a great many sections, but these are the ones you are most likely to encounter standardly.
If detained under section, you are legally entitled to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) and a Second Opinion Approved Doctor (SOAD). You also have the right to go to tribunal and ask that your section be ended.